Sarah CollinsRESEARCH: Managing abnormal glucose in cystic fibrosis (MAGIC) - the development of a self-management education programme for people with cystic fibrosis-related diabetes

How did you get into research?

In 2005 I completed a MSc which gave me the opportunity to start to develop my research skills and to take ownership of a larger research project. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and started to explore ways to get more involved in research. I made the decision that I wanted to do a PhD to further my research experience and I was fortunate to be awarded a HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Fellowship to enable me to pursue this. I am also very lucky to work in a service where there is a strong research ethos and many leaders in cystic fibrosis research to help support my training.

What do you enjoy about research?

I really enjoy challenging myself. I feel like I am on a journey and I am constantly developing my knowledge, skills and experience. So far it has been a steep learning curve with lots of hard work. But it is thoroughly enjoyable.

What was the most difficult aspect of doing your PhD?

I’m nearly a year into my PhD, so one-third of the way there. I found adjusting from working within a speciality where you were considered an expert to becoming a research novice was difficult at first. You are continually being challenged about your ideas and having to justify yourself. However, this aspect is getting easier.

What difference has your research training and experience made to your career?

It is still early days but my knowledge of research methodology is increasing. I am more critical in my thinking and more challenging of myself now.

What has made a difference to progressing your research career?

Being awarded a HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship. This has enabled me to pursue my research career. It has allowed me to combine clinical research and leadership with continued clinical practice and development. I would not get this opportunity to develop my research, leadership, academic and clinical skills without it.

Having an excellent team of supervisors from King’s College London and Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust. I have had tremendous support from my supervisors from day one. They all have different research and professional backgrounds and areas of expertise. They have challenged my way of thinking in a very supportive environment. As a team we are learning from each other

Patient participation. It is really important to listen to service users and to work with them throughout research projects.

Where do you see your clinical academic career going over the next five years?

I plan to complete my PhD by 2019. After that I would like to continue along the clinical academic pathway. I see my future career integrating clinical practice and research ideally by working as an advanced level allied health professional in a post that recognises clinical expertise, research and leadership. I would also like to support and motivate other allied health professionals to develop their research skills

Sarah Collins, HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow and cystic fibrosis specialist dietitian and PhD student, King’s College London s.collins@rbht.nhs.uk

To download Sarah's case study please click here: Sarah Collins: My Research Journey (pdf)